AP Lang and Comp A

CLASS INFO

College professors frequently lament the poor writing skills of the students who enter their classrooms, particularly straight out of high school. This course is designed to help you succeed in not only a freshman composition course, but in college altogether. To achieve this goal, students must learn to think critically, read analytically, and communicate with clarity and confidence. In this course, you will learn how to read closely and annotate a variety of formats, genres, and topics — including aspects of American Literature. 

While students may earn college credit if they receive a 3, 4, or 5 on the AP English Language and Composition Exam (depending on their chosen college), the ultimate goal of this course is to prepare students for the rigors of college writing.

Note: I teach two sections of this class on different days. When possible, I will use the same entry for both Red and Gold days. When impossible, I will post a separate summary for each day.


Wednesday, 12/12; Thursday, 12/13

Students reviewed for the final by revising one paragraph from the penny take-home essay and by annotating and discussing the rhetorical analysis essay on JFK they wrote at the very beginning of the semester. I also checked out copies of Huck Finn for optional reading over winter break and passed out the synthesis prompt/sources for students to annotate and prepare in advance of the final. Homework: review and prep for the final.

Tuesday, 12/11 (Red day)

Students peer-reviewed the penny take-home essay during the first part of class. During the second half of class, we visited the commons so everyone could get his or her scores from last week’s practice ACT. Homework: review the format of the rhetorical analysis and synthesis essays.

Monday, 12/10 (Gold day)

Students peer-reviewed the penny take-home essay during the first part of class. Afterwards, we wrapped up our discussions of Nickel and Dimed and played around with the poverty simulation at playspent.org. Homework: review the format of the rhetorical analysis and synthesis essays.

Thursday, 12/6; Friday, 12/7

During the first half of class, students worked in groups on annotating the sources and completing outlines for the last take-home essay of the semester. We then held our Socratic seminar on Nickel and Dimed. Students completed the following reflection as an exit ticket rather than a take-home reflection:

  • Evaluate the effectiveness of Ehrenreich in achieving her purpose. How/why was she effective? How/why could she have been more effective? If you were to re-create her experiment, what would you do the same? Differently?

Homework: complete the take-home essay for next class.

Tuesday, 12/4; Wednesday, 12/5

While I checked Nickel and Dimed annotations, students had one last chunk of reading time. We talked about the seminar we will have over the text next class and the questions students need to prepare as their ticket in. Then I reviewed my rubric for the Synthesis Essay. Students returned to their groups from the start of the previous class and reviewed the essays their other group members had come up with. Students practiced scoring using the new rubric, and I talked through a few specific suggestions I had relating to improving for the next synthesis essay. Homework: read the “Afterword” in Nickel and Dimed and prepare 5-7 medium and large questions about the text for a seminar next class — these questions can deal with the topic(s) of the text as well as Ehrenreich’s efficacy as an author.

Friday, 11/30; Monday, 12/3

Students outlined (main ideas, claims, thesis statements, etc.) their synthesis essays in small groups to start class. Then I put up signs for each source, and students visited these source stations for their top three sources — conferring with their classmates about what data to use and how to write their commentary. Then everyone had 30 minutes to write the synthesis essay on technology in schools, which I collected. The rest of class was taken up by a brief Nickel and Dimed discussion. Homework: read the “Evaluation” chapter in the text for next class.

Wednesday, 11/28; Thursday, 11/29

I returned (most of) the This I Believe essays today and talked briefly about revisions and late summative assignments — all of which need to be in by the end of next week. We had a little bit of reading time while I checked annotations in Nickel & Dimed. We finished discussing our current synthesis essay’s sources and talked about the plan to write the essay next class. The rest of the time we spent digging into our discussion of the Ehrenreich text (to be continued). Homework: finish “Selling in Minnesota” for next class.

Monday, 11/26; Tuesday, 11/27

After collecting the independent novel essays, students took a quiz and then had some reading time for Nickel and Dimed. We returned to the synthesis essay we’ve been practicing together, but we didn’t finish so we also did not get a chance to discuss the Ehrenreich reading. Homework: read to p. 160 in N&D.

Wednesday, 11/15; Thursday, 11/15

After reviewing the questions from last week’s seminar one last time and returning the seminar reflections, I guided students through beginning their work on the independent novel essay in small groups. Everyone worked on their large questions, evaluating them (and each others’), and beginning to outline their essays. We also discussed the reading due today in Nickel and Dimed. Homework: complete the independent novel essay and read through the end of ch. 2 in Nickel and Dimed.

Monday, 11/12; Tuesday, 11/13

After collecting the seminar reflections, I handed back (nearly all of) the essays on Of Mice and Men, and we talked about revisions and what everyone could have improved upon. I then passed out copies of our next text, Nickel and Dimed. Students read and discussed the introduction and signed out copies to take home. I then passed out our first Synthesis essay prompt and sources — this is not yet a take-home essay, though we will probably write it in class or at home after break. Homework: read and sticky-note annotate up to p. 35 in Nickel and Dimed.

Thursday, 11/8; Friday, 11/9

Students took a timed Rhetorical Analysis essay test during the first half of class. This is the last RA essay we will write before the final. Also during this time I checked seminar tickets and annotations for the final third of the independent novels. The second half of class was used for our Socratic seminar on the independent novels, using the four motifs of The American Dream, Power vs. Weakness, Privilege & Inequity, and How People are Valued. Homework: the seminar reflection. “What large questions discussed during the seminar are the most interesting to you? Why? OR What large questions not discussed today (or not discussed thoroughly enough) do you wish we’d spent more time on. Why?”

Tuesday, 11/6; Wednesday, 11/7

After some reading time, students received a handout to prepare for the Socratic seminar over the independent novels next class. This handout will be your ticket into the seminar. We talked a little more about the four motifs we’re using to connect the various novels together, and then students had time to begin on these tickets. Homework: finish your independent novel and your ticket for the seminar next class.

Friday, 11/2; Monday, 11/5

Students peer reviewed the Fridman take home essay today for the first half of class. Then we used this essay to try and norm scoring against the RA rubric. During this time I also checked the independent reading annotations for A4. We spent the remainder of the class starting our transition to the Synthesis unit — talking about reading visual texts and starting to discuss equity issues. Homework: the last third of your independent novel is due on Thursday (B6)/Friday (A4).

Wednesday, 10/31; Thursday, 11/1

Today was additional reading time for the independent novels. In B6, I checked the second set of annotations and conferenced with the rest of the class regarding the Fridman take-home essay; I was out of the building on Thursday, so the A4 class missed out on conferences. Students also worked on the Independent Novel Historical Context research assignment using iPads. In B6, we continued practice with the AP multiple choice test, and in A4 students had some additional in-class time to work on their take-home essay. Homework: part three of the independent reading is due next Thursday/Friday and the take-home is due this Friday/Monday.

Monday, 10/29; Tuesday, 10/30

The first half of class was reading time for making some progress on the independent novels. While students were reading, I held conferences to help students with their latest take-home essay. Students then completed two journal prompts to start thinking about the next Socratic seminar and the essay over the independent novels.

  1. What is the historical context for your novel? What do you know about the historical context/setting? What information would make your novel easier to understand?
  2. Write about any/all of the following topics as they relate to your novel:
    • The American Dream
    • Power/Authority vs. Weakness
    • Privilege and Equity
    • How different characters are valued

Homework: the second third of your independent novel should be read and annotated by Wednesday (B6)/Thursday (A4); the Fridman take-home essay should be finished by Friday (B6)/Monday (A4).

Thursday, 10/25; Friday, 10/26

I returned the Marquart take-home essays today and distributed our next Rhetorical Analysis take-home (Fridman). We read the prompt together and talked through annotations and organization of the essay, which will be due in about a week. We specifically talked about how to refine the organization from what we did on the Marquart essay — namely, integrating discussion of ethos, pathos, and logos into body paragraphs that are primarily about rhetorical devices rather than giving the rhetorical triangle its own paragraph. I then introduced the AP multiple choice test. While students took a practice test, I checked annotations in the first third of students’ independent novels. Homework: work on the Fridman essay so I can conference with everyone about it next week; also, read the second third of your independent novel.

Tuesday, 10/23; Wednesday, 10/24

Today was the recording day for the This I Believe essays. After going over a tutorial on how to use the recording software and completing a practice recording, students recorded themselves reading their essays. Completed essays and recordings were due at the end of class, properly named and shared with me. Homework: have read and annotated the first third of your independent novel for next class.

Friday, 10/19; Monday, 10/22

Starting with the rough draft that was due today at the start of class, students completed additional revisions and edits to their This I Believe essays. A final draft is due at the start of next class.

Wednesday, 10/17; Thursday, 10/18

At the start of class, we talked about the first independent novel. Students will have exactly three weeks to read his or her novel, and I helped everyone split up his or her novel into thirds and write due dates for each third directly in the book. Students then continued working on This I Believe essays today, continuing the work from last class and moving more from brainstorming into drafting. Students peer-reviewed their classmates’ incomplete drafts for evidence of rhetorical devices, strategies, and the triangle and also pointed out opportunities for improving their use of rhetoric. Then they worked on cleaning up their emerging drafts and comparing them to the format and style of essays they’d previously listened to/read in the earlier activity. At the end of class, we looked at the assignment and rubric. Homework: have a rough draft that’s mostly in the right shape ready for next class.

Monday, 10/15; Tuesday, 10/16

We finished up brainstorming and began drafting of the This I Believe essays today in class. Students clarified their belief statements and began writing about the formative anecdotes surrounding their beliefs. They also began some early peer review by examining the anecdote drafts for evidence of the Known-New Contract. Homework: complete the KNC work and revision and round out the anecdotes for next class.

Wednesday, 10/10; Thursday, 10/11

I collected Of Mice and Men essays today. Then we continued the This I Believe listening activity today, reviewing other students’ documents and commenting on them via Google Docs. We also did some brainstorming activities to help students generate ideas for their own belief essays. Homework: finish up the listening activity if you didn’t have enough time in class to do so.

Monday, 10/8; Tuesday, 10/9

Our first of the next several days in the library/Wired lab, we started the This I Believe project by listening to one more essay together as a class, and then three of each students’ own choosing on his or her own, using a Google Docs template to shape and organize responses to each. Students shared these documents with each other in a folder so we could continue this activity tomorrow. Homework: please finish your Of Mice and Men essay and have it ready to hand it (electronic or hard copy) at the start of next class.

Thursday, 10/4; Friday, 10/5

I collected the essay pre-writing handout at the start of class for a grade, and I checked the independent novels for a grade as well. Students had a little bit of time to start the Of Mice and Men essay. Then I introduced the This I Believe essay. We listened to a couple of essays together as a class and students took notes on rhetorical effectiveness of them. Homework: work on your Mice essay; it’s due next Wednesday/Thursday respectively for each class.

Tuesday, 10/2; Wednesday, 10/3

I checked seminar reflections at the start of class, and then we had our last discussion for Of Mice and Men. I introduced the essay over Mice, and students began working on the essay and developing their own individual questions using this handout. We then spent some time learning about the Known-New Contract — I finished the slides and activity on Tuesday, but Wednesday’s class didn’t quite get through it all due to late-start schedule. Homework: complete the essay pre-writing assignment for next class; also, bring your independent novels to the next class.

Friday, 9/28; Monday, 10/1

Students turned in their Mice questions for seminar and got their essays stamped at the start of class. Everyone ran through peer review activities with a partner, and then we dove into our seminar, which took the rest of class. Homework: Answer the following reflection prompt in one substantial paragraph — “What are some (1? 2? 3?) large questions that you would like to explore further in this novel. These could be questions you had that we didn’t get to, that we didn’t discuss enough, or a that newly occurred to you during the seminar. For example, the type of question that could be answered in an essay…. Why do you think these are interesting questions to consider after completing the novel?”

Thursday, 9/27 (Red day)

Continuing our work on the Marquart take-home essay, we worked on writing good thesis statements and claims today. We also reviewed small, medium, and large questions since I was out last class. Students responded to some journal prompts on the end of the novel and worked on their medium and large questions for Socratic Seminar. I also reminded students about choosing and acquiring their independent novels — everyone needs to have them in hand or ordered through me by next week. Anyone who needs me to order novels for them needs to talk to me by the end of this week if they haven’t already. Homework: take-home essay is due at the start of next class; also at the start of next class, have your entrance ticket of more than 6 medium questions and more than 4 large questions about Of Mice and Men.

Wednesday, 9/26 (Gold day)

Students had some time today to work further on the outline or draft of their Marquart essay. Students then responded to some journal prompts on the end of the novel and worked on their medium and large questions for Socratic Seminar. I also reminded students about choosing and acquiring their independent novels — everyone needs to have them in hand or ordered through me by next week. Anyone who needs me to order novels for them needs to talk to me by the end of this week if they haven’t already. Homework: take-home essay is due at the start of next class; also at the start of next class, have your entrance ticket of more than 6 medium questions and more than 4 large questions about Of Mice and Men.

Tuesday, 9/25 (Red day)

I was away from school today. With the sub, students were to work on the commentary section of the outline for the Marquart take-home essay and attempt to come up with small, medium, and large questions from Of Mice and Men. Homework: please finish Mice for next class; please complete the take-home essay by the start of class next Monday (this is a change that should have been announced by the sub).

Monday, 9/24 (Gold day)

Continuing our work on the Marquart take-home essay, we worked on writing good thesis statements and claims today. After spending some time refining those and beginning work on the commentary sections of the outline for this take-home essay, we talked about small, medium, and large questions — a review for most students. We used this to begin preparing for Socratic Seminar and also to discuss ch. 5 of Of Mice and Men. Homework: finish Mice for next class; complete your take-home essay by the start of class on Friday.

Thursday, 9/20; Friday, 9/21

I started class by going over the second half of our rhetorical devices today — tropes. Students again took notes on the handout I supplied last class, and we talked through examples of each of these devices. Students looked for examples of tropes in the Marquart passage and then started outlining the essays they will write to answer that prompt. We also talked a little bit about Ch. 3 & 4 of Mice. Homework: read ch. 5 in Mice and work on the outline for the take-home essay.

Tuesday, 9/18; Wednesday, 9/19

I handed out a new Rhetorical Analysis prompt and passage for our next take-home essay at the start of class. We read the prompt and passage together, and then students annotated for evidence of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos, which we then discussed. Following this, I introduced our study of Rhetorical Devices, and we went over the first half — schemes. Students took notes on a two-sided handout. Afterwards, students returned to the Marquart passage and looked for examples of these schemes. Homework: read ch. 4 in Of Mice and Men.

Friday, 9/14; Monday, 9/17

We spent one more day with the Steve Jobs Stanford Commencement Speech today. The initial analysis paragraphs of Jobs’ use of Rhetorical Triangle were all over the place, so I talked some more about claim/data/commentary in this context and gave an example of a paragraph about Ethos. Students wrote another paragraph, trying to do better than they had on the first, and then turned both back in. While they were working on these, I checked students’ annotations in Of Mice and Men, which we discussed for a bit after everyone was done with the Jobs paragraphs. Homework: read and annotate ch. 3 in Of Mice and Men.

Wednesday, 9/12; Thursday, 9/13

We started off class with a few minutes of reading time to get ahead (or caught up) in Of Mice and Men. We also went over the independent reading list. Then we returned to my version of the rubric for the Rhetorical Analysis essay and used it to evaluate several actual student examples from when the Lincoln prompt was used in 2004. At the end of class, we started discussing ch. 1 in Of Mice and MenHomework: please read and annotate ch. 2.

Monday, 9/10; Tuesday, 9/11

After collecting the reflections from last week’s Socratic seminar, we returned to the Steve Jobs speech at Stanford. We reviewed ethos, pathos, and logos, and went over the logical appeals in the speech. Then I handed out copies of the speech to students so they could attempt to analyze one of the three appeals in the speech. They then wrote a draft body paragraph such as might appear in a rhetorical analysis essay. These were due in class. After we finished with this, I handed out copies of Of Mice and Men to students and reminded them to use the annotations bookmark to make annotations on sticky notes (since these are school-owned texts). At the end of class, I handed out my “simplified” rubric for Rhetorical Analysis essays. Homework: read the first chapter of Of Mice and Men and annotate it for next class.

Thursday, 9/6; Friday, 9/7

After checking the Lincoln essays due at the start of class, students with their essays peer reviewed while those without worked in the hallway to finish theirs. I also checked the Seminar entrance tickets (annotated voter ID sources as well as a third source found by the student). Those with adequate tickets participated in the seminar, while those without had to sit on the outside and just take notes. Homework: everyone must complete the seminar reflection in one thorough paragraph — “Evaluate the motives of the people making these laws. Do you think they are sincere? Are they justified? Use evidence from the text and the discussion to support your perspective.”

Wednesday, 9/5 (Red day)

We reviewed the Lincoln essay assignment and also discussed briefly my expectations for Socratic Seminar on Friday. I then introduced the Rhetorical Triangle, and we watched Steve Jobs’s Stanford commencement address from 2005. Students tried find examples of all three parts of the Rhetorical Triangle in the speech, and then we discussed their findings. Homework: take-home essay and current events prep are both due on Thursday.

Tuesday, 9/4 (Gold day)

We went over our last few notes/annotations on the Lincoln passage and talked a little bit about finding author’s purpose. We also discussed briefly my expectations for Socratic Seminar. I then introduced the Rhetorical Triangle, and we watched Steve Jobs’s Stanford commencement address from 2005. Students tried find examples of all three parts of the Rhetorical Triangle in the speech, and then we discussed their findings. Homework: take-home essay and current events prep are both due on Thursday.

Friday, 8/31 (Red day)

After reviewing the take-home essay assignment and the pre-Socratic seminar assignment, both due next Friday, I then passed out the “sticky note” annotation bookmark and we reviewed how to make annotations using those symbols. Students read and annotated the Lincoln passage on their own, and then we annotated it together using the document camera and projector. Homework: work on take-home essay, prepare for seminar; both still due Friday.

Thursday, 8/30 (Gold day)

At the start of class, I passed out three items: the 2002 RA prompt and passage (Lincoln)“Voter Suppression Returns” (Harvard Magazine article), and “U.S. citizens among those who got letters questioning right to vote” (The Denver Post article). The Lincoln prompt/passage is for a take-home essay that will be due next Thursday. The two articles will be for our first current events Socratic seminar on voter ID laws and voter suppression. This seminar will also happen next Friday, and students should read both of the articles, annotate them, and find one additional text on the same topic to prepare. I then passed out the “sticky note” annotation bookmark and we reviewed how to make annotations using those symbols. Students read and annotated the Lincoln passage on their own, and then we annotated it together using the document camera and projector. Homework: work on take-home essay, prepare for seminar.

Wednesday, 8/29 (Red day)

We reviewed the Claim/Data/Commentary pattern for body paragraph writing and went over some more examples together. Then each student examined his or her own year-round school essay for evidence of this pattern. Students underlined claim, data, and commentary in different colors and looked at the proportion of each (or in some cases, the absence of one or another). Then they chose one paragraph to revise and improve the claim/data/commentary pattern in that paragraph. Towards the end of class, I passed out three items: the 2002 RA prompt and passage (Lincoln)“Voter Suppression Returns” (Harvard Magazine article), and “U.S. citizens among those who got letters questioning right to vote” (The Denver Post article). The  Lincoln prompt/passage is for a take-home essay that will be due next Friday. The two articles will be for our first current events Socratic seminar on voter ID laws and voter suppression. This seminar will also happen next Friday, and students should read both of the articles, annotate them, and find one additional text on the same topic to prepare. Homework: work on take-home essay, prepare for seminar.

Tuesday, 8/28 (Gold day)

Students completed the final portion of the 2012 constructed response today — the Argumentative essay. After they finished, I introduced the Claim/Data/Commentary pattern for body paragraph writing. We discussed the pattern, looked at some examples together, and then each student examined his or her own year-round school essay for evidence of this pattern. Students underlined claim, data, and commentary in different colors and looked at the proportion of each (or in some cases, the absence of one or another). Then they chose one paragraph to revise and improve the claim/data/commentary pattern in that paragraph. A few students didn’t finish this before the end of class. Homework: finish your revised paragraphs for next class if necessary.

Monday, 8/27 (Red day)

Students completed the final portion of the 2012 constructed response today — the Argumentative essay. After they finished, I introduced the Claim/Data/Commentary pattern for body paragraph writing. We discussed the pattern and started looking at some examples together.

Friday, 8/24 (Gold day)

Students completed the final portion of the 2012 constructed response today — the Argumentative essay. Also today, we reviewed the course syllabus. Students and their parents need to sign this signature slip to show that they've received and read it. Homework: return the signed syllabus slip next class.

Thursday, 8/23 (Red day)

Students took their first timed Synthesis Essay, again taken from the constructed response portion of the 2012 AP Lang test. We briefly discussed the prompt and sources, students had 15 minutes to review and annotate them, and then the typical 40 minutes to write the essay. Also today, we reviewed the course syllabus. Students and their parents need to sign this signature slip to show that they've received and read it. Homework: return the signed syllabus slip next class.

Wednesday, 8/22 (Gold day)

The lengthy fire drill ate up a lot of our class time today, so we really only had time for the timed Synthesis Essay, again taken from the constructed response portion of the 2012 AP Lang test. We briefly discussed the prompt and sources, students had 15 minutes to review and annotate them, and then the typical 40 minutes to write the essay, which I collected at the end of class.

Monday, 8/20; Tuesday, 8/21

After taking yearbook photos, I collected the year-round school essays that were due today. We spent time reviewing the three types of essays that will be on the AP Lang test and will form the basis for all of our writing instruction this year. The last 40 minutes of class were spent on the first timed essay — the 2012 Rhetorical Analysis essay.

Friday, 8/17

After giving a brief overview of the course, I introduced articles from Time magazine and the Daily Times-Call about the possible benefits of year-round school. Students had time to start reading these articles in class. Homework: finish both articles; then write the best 5-paragraph essay you can arguing why you think SVVSD and school districts around the country should or should not adopt a year-round calendar; you must use at least one piece of evidence (direct quote) in each body paragraph, and you must use at least one piece of evidence from each text; this is due the next day we meet.


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